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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Getting down and dirty!

Well at long last my new lens has arrived .... all been a bit of a do to be honest and have to say that after placing my order on Feb 28th and paying an extra £30 for express delivery I'm less than impressed to be unwrapping my Canon EF 400mm lens some 6 weeks later and with a wapping 267 euros import / VAT tax to pay to boot!

Still getting to grips with it and trying not to compare it with the excellent results I got from my defunct Tamron big lens but early results are ok.

I seem to have got into photographing closer to hand subjects like flowers and butterflies of late, keeping my eyes trained less on the skies and more on the hedgerows; new lens or not, this habit seems to have stuck with me but hey the results have been good and already had several wild flower and butterfly pics accepted by stock sites.

New flowers coming up all the time at the moment of course and not being much of a botanist it's been a real challenge id'ing the flowers I photograph (thank you Google images!). So here's an opportunity to show off my new found knowledge ..... first off are some lovely Grape Hyacinths (left)

For me, getting good pics of wild flowers is all about 2 things - good light and interesting angles. Light I can usually gauge ok and can usually be rectified with any decent photographic software if necessary but as I have discovered the interesting angles usually involve some degree of getting horizontal .... in other words lying down and getting dirty on the earth!

Apart from getting grubby, thorned and nettled I also lost a mobile phone out of my jacket pocket taking some of these!

From top to bottom - Buttercups against the blue sky, early emerging Wood Anemones at eye level and Cuckoo Flowers (or lady's smock) against the river.

Whilst scrambling about like this in a local meadow recently I was lucky enough to spot a different looking butterfly flitting about which was quickly joined by another of the same kind. Swallowtails! Dashing and stunningly beautiful here's the best shot of one of them and although the second shot is out of focus I've included because it only very nearly captures the pair of them mating!
Swallowtails are just awesome and being relatively scarce even in these parts they certainly add a taste of the exotic to a morning walk in the early Springtime. A lot more common are the yellow Brimstones that have been out for a few weeks now - tricky to photograph as they never seem to settle but this one did rest a while on a Lungwort flower head, albeit with closed wings (pic right) producing a pleasing image, and to complete my little collection of April flutterbies here's what I believe is a Speckled Wood (below)

You never know what you might find when you're scrabbling around in the grass trying to get a decent photographic angle and this big beetle (sorry, but no idea what species) certainly seemed nosey so I snapped him with my macro lens!
Now then, before you all start thinking I've turned into an amateur botanist come bug hunter, although my eyes have spent more time than usual trained on the ground my main prey is always the birds and here's a couple with the new lens. First up is a nice female Blackcap (right), a returning Summer migrant and one of many that are singing from nearly every hedgerow at the moment, and pictured below are a couple of the best shots of a briefly glimpsed male Montague's Harrier.

Have to that so far I've not really noticed a huge amount of difference between the Canon and my old Tamron which at 500mm had more reach but I guess time will tell. I'm considering a 1.4 or even a 2 x converter for the Canon now (more expense!)

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